Collectivity is rooted in the community. In the 19th century, utopian socialists, such as Etienne Cabet, Charles Fourier and Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, envisioned a society newly transformed by labor and industrialization according to their concept of rationally ordered collectivities. Collecting, in the richest sense of the word, is a practice that begins with individuation.
How can artists use collecting and archiving strategies traditionally reserved for collectors or curators? And how is it possible to preserve a collection after someone’s death without being forced to deal with the passing of his/hers estate? Could it be possible for algorithms, instead of humans, to curate collections?
Cemeteries are the prime manifestation of society’s relationship with the communal, the ephemeral and the sublime. They are reflective landscapes of social and individual anxieties, fears and imaginaries while serving as a point of reference in between the living and the dead. Sometimes it is almost comfortably reassuring to remember that “the internet never forgets”. Beyond the territory of science fiction, today we are publicly discussing issues such as new forms of inter-generational collective intelligence and the possibility of replicating one’s identity by feeding personal information to a bot. As Dr. Hossein Rahnama writes, “our digital identity has become so rich and intrinsic that without it, many of us may be considered half humans”. It is only natural then that, even though the practice of preserving the remaining matter of an individual withers, the collective fantasy of hesterophemia endures in the form of securing an internet niche and creating our own personal digital archives, in hopes that they will last forever. In this digital era, archiving has become a practice mainly confined inside the walls of the physical version of the internet which we rarely consider and even ostracize from our urban networks: the data center.